Monday, January 4, 2021

Review: Death Metal: The Secret Origin

I say it often but I'll say it again. I am very thankful for the community of comic fans that I call friends. Often times, they will tell me about books I should be getting and reading.

For the umpteenth time, I have to thank blog friend Martin Gray for tell me that I shouldn't pass on Death Metal: The Secret Origin. I have, for the most part, been avoiding the Metal event. When I saw this was a Superboy Prime book, a character I never thought I would want to see again, I figured this would definitely be a book to keep on the shelves. 

Instead, what we get is the redemption story this character needed. 

As someone old enough to have bought the DC Comics Presents issue which introduced Prime, I liked his innocence and his role in Crisis on Infinite Earths. So I definitely was miffed when he was turned into a sadistic monster in Infinite Crisis and beyond. (Don't get me started on the tarnishing of the Earth-2 Superman.)

I came to hate this character and all he represented for DC. He was the poster child of the darkening of the DCU.

But I trust Martin so I plunked down my money and read this book. It certainly has a deep bench of talent attached to it. Scott Snyder, Geoff Johns, Francis Manapul, Jerry Ordway, Paul Pelletier, and Ryan Benjamin. That's talent. 

So let's dive into this book, a delightful surprise.

The book starts out with a primer on Superboy Prime. We see how he was a geek in the mid-80s, a comic lover who turned a spinner rack that I probably turned. Picked on by jocks, he finds a soul mate in Laurie. 

But when the Crisis hits, his world is destroyed. He joins the DCU in battling the Anti-Monitor.

Of course, we also see him going evil, killing Titans and donning armor that Monarch would be jealous of. 

Great art by Jerry Ordway, totally reminiscent of the Crisis. Wonderful. And all the minutiae of actually comics from the time is just brilliant.

I honestly have no idea what is happening in Metal. 52 evil Earths with 52 evil Supermen analogs who will help the Batman Who Laughs make a new evil universe. Did I get that right.

Out of nowhere, Prime manifests. 

I do like how the Superman family seems to be fighting as a unit. And love how Supergirl, always the strategic one, is the first to question if they can count on Prime for anything.

While the heroes of the DCU have seen enough of Prime to welcome him with open arms. Heck, even the villains of the DCU shun him.

Leave it to Krypto to break the ice, treating Prime with some compassion. He approaches Prime like the good boy he is, wagging his tail and accepting some scratches.

We'll get back to this in a second. 

Before Prime can do anything of his own accord, he is attacked by one of the evil Supermen.

Never one to shy from a fight (especially when the opponent is insulting him ... he always was sensitive), he batters the guy.

And when he does, he sees that Superman's world change.

Remember all the jokes about Superboy reality punches from Infinite Crisis? Could it be they could be used for good?

Realizing he has some power, he flies right into battle to take on (what I assume is) the Batman Who Laughs.

With each punch, things change. Prime could change everything if he kills this demon.

I do like how The Batman Who Laughs says he and Prime are pretty much the same. And Prime violently denies it. After all, he did all the evil things he did but for the right reasons!

Well ....

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. But I do rather like seeing two villains slugging it out.

But we really get down to an Infinite Crisis like moment. Prime, if he kills that Batman Who Laughs, will absorb all that power. He can rewrite the universe, recreating his world. He can get back all he lost.

Just as he is about to land the killing blow, Krypto comes flying in and stops him from murdering again.

Okay. I am sure none of these writers actually have read any Supergirl books in the last couple of years. But this 'Krypto stopping a super-family member from killing' was done at least twice there.

Thank goodness Krypto is a good dog! If not Kara and Prime would be killers.

And I have to say, isn't this the Prime who pulped lots of people in gruesome ways? Is Krypto that cute?

Enough sourness Anj! Be happy we get a redemption story!

I have to say, it does look like he does end up killing The Batman Who Laughs. 

But instead of absorbing the energy, he lets it dissipate, destroying the 52 evil Earths.

Prime did the right thing ... I guess.

At the cost of his own life.

We see Krypto standing over his dead body, mourning amid the rubble.

Nice homage here.

Real nice homage. Here we see the classic two page spread in the classic Superman #75.

It definitely hammers home the point that Prime is supposed to be considered a hero. 

Prime is dead. 

Long Live Prime.

He awakens on his Earth, recreated and powerless. He is back in his basement with comics in boxes. Laurie is alive. And all seems well.

The evil he did is in the past ... if it ever happened. His life is 'to be continued'.

I won't spoil the extra turn at the end. But suffice it to say, there is another homage, Action-packed.

I am a sucker for redemption stories. And hopefully we don't see Prime again for a long long time, if ever. And if we do, I hope he hasn't devolved back to the evil killer. 

Maybe this is the book I needed at the end of 2020. The bad stuff is hopefully behind us. There is hope ahead.

Overall grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

I’m so glad you read this, it perked me up too. I’m all for leaving this Clark and Laurie together on Earth Prime. Maybe they can team-up with Ultra.

Anonymous said...

Could Superboy Prime "punch his way" into a nicer personality or a more tolerant reality? I guess not. A character that symbolizes DC's morbidly garbled continuity is at least given some sort of a happy ending...what more needs be said? Other than Krypto has become the conscience of the House of El...


Steve said...

I have it but I'll probably never read it. I can't escape my conviction that some characters are written going too far to ever redeem them. Pantha and Baby Wildebeast (plus many more. He wiped out an alt Earth!) are still dead so no, there should be no happy ending for Prime...

Anonymous said...

All of Prime's irredeemable past actions were expunged. Even the scar on his chest disappeared like it was never there at all. This story truly gave the character a clean slate. What's next for Superboy-Prime?